Caring for Your Amaryllis after Christmas

Amaryllis Red 2Was your home brightened by a beautiful blooming amaryllis this holiday season? Are you wondering what to do now that it is done blooming? The secret to maintaining your amaryllis plant so that it will survive and bloom again next Christmas is to keep it growing after it has finished blooming. You need to allow the plant to produce extra energy that will be stored in the bulb and released as a flower next year. You can treat your past-bloom amaryllis as a houseplant for the rest of the winter, move it outside in the spring, and then bring it back inside in the fall. Amaryllis do not require a resting period and will re-bloom if kept alive year-round as a plant. Some people prefer to add in a dormancy period, as that allows them to manage when the plant blooms. If you plan to keep the plant alive and growing year-round, follow these instructions:
  • After Christmas, as the flowers fade, cut them off to prevent seed formation.
  • Do not remove the flower stalk until it has turned yellow because it will help manufacture food that will be stored in the bulb.
  • Your amaryllis needs plenty of bright sunlight after it has finished blooming so place it in the brightest possible location indoors.
  • Water the plant from the top of the container thoroughly whenever the top 2 inches of the soil is dry to the touch.
  • Empty any excess water that drains from the pot as wet soil will promote root and bulb rot.
  • When all of the flowers have bloomed, faded, and been removed, and once the flower stalk itself has yellowed, you can remove it, cutting it from the plant at its base about one inch above the bulb.
  • Continue to water the plant regularly. Use a diluted fertilizer every other week.
  • When all danger of frost is past, acclimate the plant to the outdoors by first placing it outside in shade or indirect light.
  • Gradually move it to a bright spot in your garden where it will receive full sun for at least six hours each day.
  • Sink the pot into the soil and fertilize with a balanced houseplant fertilizer monthly to build up nutrients for flower production the next year.
  • In the fall before the first frost, dig up your amaryllis plant and bring it indoors.
  • Continue to care for it as a houseplant, watering and fertilizing regularly. Rotate your plant frequently to encourage the flower stalk to grow straight.
  • Your plant will bloom again as long as it received enough water, sunlight, and nutrients over the course of the year.
  • If you are successful and your plant produces a new flower stalk, it will usually need support, even if you turn the plant regularly during the growing period. Get creative and use red twig dogwood, curly willow, or a wooden plant stake with a starfish glued to the top. Tie with festive ribbon.
  • If the bulb does not produce a flowering stalk, it has not stored enough nutrients during the post-blooming period. You can still try again for next year, making sure that it gets enough sunlight, water, and fertilizer.
  • Amaryllis plants bloom best when they are pot-bound so they will require re-potting only every three or four years.
Another option is to allow the bulb to go dormant at the end of the summer which gives it a rest and allows you to control the bloom time. If you decide to try this, dig up the pot and bring the plant inside at the end of August.
  • Put the pot in a dark place like a basement or a cool closet and do not water.
  • Wait until the foliage has become dry and shriveled and then cut it off just above the bulb.
  • Inspect the bulb periodically. If new growth appears, re-pot it, water it, and place it in a sunny location.
  • Otherwise, let the bulb rest for the months of September and October.
  • Repot the bulb in fresh potting soil in early November for flowers at Christmastime.
  • Leave your bulb in its dormant state for longer if you want it to bloom for Valentine’s Day.
  • When re-potting, select a container that is deep enough to allow adequate room for good root development and has provisions for drainage. Amaryllis bulbs prefer a small container, so the diameter of the pot should be only about one inch larger than that of the bulb.
  • Select a potting medium that has a high organic matter, but drains well.
  • Position the bulb so that at least one-third, preferably one-half, of the bulb is above the surface of the potting medium. Firm the potting medium around the bulb, water it thoroughly and place the container in a warm, sunny spot.
  • Water sparingly until new growth is about two inches tall, and then water whenever the top two inches of potting soil becomes dry.
  • Do not fertilize the bulb until it begins to grow. After growth appears, fertilize the plants regularly with a fertilizer that has a high phosphorus content.
  • Turn the pot regularly to encourage the flower stalk to grow straight.
  • To prolong the blooms, move the plant out of direct sunlight when the flower buds have begun to show color.